The U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Energy Thought Summit (ETS), and the IC² Institute’s Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) are partnering to develop and host the first-ever Solar Data Reverse Hackathon in Austin, Texas.
Kathleen Baireuther, Assistant Director of ATI’s Clean Energy Incubator, designed the reverse hackathon for her final project in NREL’s Executive Energy Leadership Program. Baireuther was one of 22 professionals selected to participate in a four-month program that offers executive decision-makers from throughout the U.S. an in-depth opportunity to learn from NREL’s most prominent scientists, engineers and professionals, tour research facilities, and visit local renewable energy installations.
“The datasets, algorithms, and visualization capabilities at NREL stood out as an exceptional opportunity for ATI to engage Austin’s broader entrepreneurial and coding communities in cleantech innovation,” said Baireuther. “Our goal is to stimulate and support innovation that will attract funding in the private capital markets. The reverse pitch process is critical because you begin with real industry problems where significant dollars could be deployed against solutions, then support entrepreneurs to develop a product that can become a successful business.”
The reverse hackathon process engages industry in meaningful conversations about where innovation is required and educates the coding and entrepreneurial communities about business opportunities in energy. It also connects innovators with valuable resources for building a successful product and business, such as publicly available datasets, industry expertise, and other community resources.
“NREL hopes to partner with the robust community of energy and technology professionals in Austin to solve real world solar challenges,” said Johanna Levene, Manager of Web and Data Technologies at NREL. “Our goal is to ensure that the data and algorithms provided by NREL can help entrepreneurs by providing a reliable source of credible energy information.”
The program will begin with researching and interviewing energy industry stakeholders to identify problems related to solar development and deployment. The research will be followed by several educational webinars taking place in November, December, and January and will culminate in a hackathon in March. Coding teams will pitch their solutions at ETS17 on March 27-30 of 2017 in Austin, Texas. The ETS17 partnership is an important layer to this program because it dramatically increases the visibility of solutions developed through the hackathon and positions them to grow into companies after the event itself.
Zpryme, an Austin-based research, media, and events agency that owns and produces the Energy Thought Summit (ETS) will showcase the real-world applications developed from the reverse hackathon to major utilities and technology providers at ETS17.
“Zpryme is excited to be working with NREL and ATI to increase collaboration among the coding community, solar community, and the broader energy industry,” said Jason Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of Zpryme. “The reverse hackathon aligns with our goal to make ETS the nerve-center for both thought leadership and innovative partnerships for the energy industry.”
The first iteration of this event will focus on solar data through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative’s Solar Data Ambassadors program. NREL and the DOE hope to use Austin as their first test using the regional reverse hackathon methodology. If the process proves successful, NREL and the DOE hope to replicate it across other regions while continuing to engage in the Austin community with ongoing energy data ventures.
The Solar Data Reverse Hackathon is actively seeing industry partners and sponsors, coding academies, and programmers to promote the event and engage their respective constituencies in this unique opportunity. Research partners, professional associations, and industry are also invited to contribute solar research and data sets.
About Zpryme and Energy Thought Summit (ETS)
Austin, Texas based Zpryme is a research, media, and events agency that primarily serves the energy sector. Based on the creative direction of our associates, Zpryme produces influential research, Energy Thought Summit (ETS), and premium branding experiences that challenge the status quo. Learn more here: zpryme.com
About Austin Technology Incubator (ATI)
The Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), the startup incubator of The University of Texas at Austin, is the longest-established venture incubator in the nation. ATI works with both university-derived and non-university-derived startups, preparing them to compete in the capital markets. ATI is among the most successful incubators in the nation. Over the past 7 years that the current team and model have been in place, roughly 90% of ATI companies have received investment, totaling almost $900 million dollars. (Over the same time period, ATI companies have accumulated total book value of $1.5-2 billion.) ATI alumni have contributed almost $1 billion and over 6,500 jobs to Central Texas; each public $1 invested in ATI has yielded $66 of economic activity.
ATI’s Energy & Cleantech program is also a national leader. ATI is a node in the DOE’s National Incubator Initiative for Clean Energy (NIICE), presently known as Incubatenergy. ATI also coordinates a network of clean energy and water incubators across the state of Texas, all of which are university-based. ATI’s Energy & Cleantech companies have raised more than $200 million in investor capital (including one IPO). These companies have generated more than $85 million in economic impact. The broader clean energy ecosystem in Austin represents a $2.5 Billion industry and 20,000 jobs. The cleantech community in the Austin region is highly engaged, entrepreneurial, and collaborative. Learn more here: ati.utexas.edu